Alt-country rockers Drive-By Truckers will be closing out 2011 in true Trucker fashion with a three-night engagement at the 9:30 club in Washington, D.C. The New Year, however, will bring a change of pace for the band, known for maintaining a demanding touring schedule.
According to Patterson Hood, Truckers founder and guitarist, the band will be taking it easy in the coming year.
“We just need some time off,” Hood said. “We need some time at home. I love playing live and I love touring as much as you can, but at the same time, I think all good things should be balanced a little bit, and it’s been a little out of balance.”
Hood explained that the group is coming off of two back-to-back tours.
“That’s hard enough if you’re in your 20s, but we’re all older than that – and, in my case, a good bit older than that,” Hood said. “I’ve got small children at home and a family I’ve been away from way too much in the last two years. I don’t want to just live in the road.”
The tours were for the band’s most recent records, 2010’s The Big To-Do and 2011’s Go-Go Boots, albums which were recorded at the same time.
“We’d literally come into the studio and decide that day which record we felt like working on, depending on what mood we were in,” Hood said. “Between the two, it covers a good bit of the spectrum of what we do. They were two very different records from each other, but two sides of the same coin that is our band.”
First came The Big To-Do, a moody, rhythm-and-blue-steeped album that is darker than the nine Truckers albums before it, with tracks like “This F***ing Job” bemoaning working and struggling to get by, and “Drag The Lake Charlie” delivering a twisted tale of murderous suspicion.
Less than two weeks after the end of the To-Do tour, the Truckers were back on the road again promoting Go-Go Boots.
“The burnout factor is probably something we didn’t take into account enough,” Hood said. “But I’m real proud we got through the year without it really showing in the show itself.”
Hood describes the latest album as a country/soul hybrid, an homage to the Muscle Shoals area where he and fellow trucker Mike Cooley grew up. Hood explains that the Muscle Shoals sound, once popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, is a blend of the Nashville and Memphis music traditions found in the space between the two Southern music capitals.
“Geographically, Muscle Shoals is kind of half way between Nashville and Memphis,” Hood said. “In the old days, there was more of a geographical stamp on where music came from. Go-Go was sort of our record to really embrace the sound that we grew up with. I’m real proud of that record; it’s one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do as a band.”
While Hood will keep busy with a solo album coming out in the spring, and a few shows planned for the New Year, Drive-By Truckers will be slowing down and planning for the future.
“We’ll kind of recharge our batteries and start thinking in terms of what we’re going to want to do when we’re ready to go back to the studio,” Hood said.
Before that hiatus, the band is looking forward to playing out of the old year and into the new at the 9:30 club. They will be performing Thursday through Saturday with supporting acts Lucero, J. Roddy Walston and The Business, and Alabama Shakes, and will be joined by Booker T. Jones, the Grammy-award-winning frontman of Booker T. and the MGs, on New Year’s Eve.
“We’ve always played some of our best shows at the 9:30,” Hood said. “It’s truly one of our favorite rooms – that’s why we’re doing New Year’s there.”
When it comes to planning a New Year’s Eve show, Hood said it’s all about the fun, and making sure the band plays with a party in mind.
“Our band is a pretty fun live band,” Hood said, admitting to “kind of dark subject matter” on Truckers albums. “But it’s sort of the blues tradition of taking your troubles and turning it into a fun time on a Saturday night. And it will probably be turned up a notch with it being New Year’s and it being the 9:30 club.”